This year’s RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run will take place Sunday, 7th November and marks the 125th anniversary of the historic Emancipation Run.
It was back in 1896 when a group of vintage motorists decided to make the long trek from London to Brighton in celebration of the passing of the Locomotives on Highway Act which increased the speed limit from 4mph to a heady 14mph and, in the process, made the red warning flag carrier redundant.
It was a seminal moment in time. The new law was a life-changer in so many ways – it totally transformed the perspectives of social mobility and personal freedoms and, of course, spawned exciting new industries. It’s this key turning point in our history that was originally hailed by those visionary trailblazers on the very first Emancipation Run and which we continue to celebrate today. Nevermore so than in special anniversary years such as this
Just some of the glorious machines venturing to this year’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
To mark the occasion, no less than 320 pioneering ‘horseless carriages’ will leave Hyde Park in London at sunrise (07:06 am) on Sunday morning and make the same 60-mile journey as those prophetic early motorists had done 125 years earlier from the capital city to the southern coast of England, in the county of East Sussex.
The vintage burners, steamers and even chargers will entertain the crowds with their sights, sounds and historic pungent aroma – some powered by the devilish combustion engines, others by puffing steam and the odd electric tourer will be all present and correct at 6.45 am on the 7th November as the ceremonial tearing of the red flag takes place in Hyde Park, London.
The illustrious list of makes will include more household names such as Fiat, Renault, Peugeot, Daimler, Vauxhall and Mercedes, but there are plenty of long-forgotten marques in the line-up too with Napoleon, Yale, Dennis, Flint, Maxwell, Star, Lambert and Gladiator all joining the celebrations. The oldest car lining up in Hyde Park will be an intrepid single-cylinder 1894 Benz.
As ever, the historic event’s unique charisma has attracted a large number of well-known personalities and international entries with more than 50 participants travelling from overseas to be part of this year’s celebrations.
Notably, the fastest man on Earth, Andy Green OBE, will be debuting his newly acquired steam-propelled 1904 Stanley. The World Land Speed Record holder, however, will be travelling at somewhat subdued speeds when compared to the 760mph he topped in Thrust SSC back in 1997 to become the first person to break the sound barrier on terra firma.
London to Brighton Veteran Car Run Route
After leaving Hyde Park the veterans will drive through Admiralty Arch, down Constitution Hill, past Buckingham Palace and onto the Mall, before heading down Whitehall to Parliament Square.
Then, to alleviate congestion and give participants a more pleasurable drive out of the city, the route will split into two with half the field crossing Westminster Bridge and taking the traditional A23 route via Kennington, Brixton and Streatham. The other half will cross the Thames via the neighbouring Lambeth Bridge and then follow the A3, A24, A217 and A236 over Clapham Common and then through Tooting and Mitcham.
The two routes will then merge once again on the A236 north of Croydon with all cars reunited as they head south through Surrey.
Adding extra interest, the route between Croydon and Redhill also includes the A. Lange & Söhne Regularity Time Trial; the only competitive element of the event which requires drivers to get as close to a chosen average speed as possible.
After Burgess Hill, the Run tackles the scenic but demanding roads through the villages of the Sussex South Downs, passing through Hassocks and Clayton where pubs will be raising funds for Ben, the charity dedicated to supporting the people of the automotive industry.
The route thereafter joins the A23 for the final run into Brighton and the welcome finish – plus a hard-earned hot toddy courtesy of Aberfeldy single malt whisky – on Madeira Drive.
Aside from the start, timings are approximate. The first car is due at the Madeira Drive finish shortly after 10 am while, to be sure of a finishers’ medal to celebrate a punctual arrival at Brighton, participants need to make it to the seafront before the 4.30 pm curfew.
Aside from the paddocks at Hyde Park and Madeira Drive, the organisers have suggested the following locations as popular viewing points:
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